goingplaceslivinglife

Travel, Food, and Slices of Life


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I Feel Lucky

It’s a pretty busy time, but when is it not busy in my life?  Anyway, it’s busy and I like it that way.

Today I had an appointment with my allergist to go another scratch test for some of the standard issues here. I had to be off my antihistamine for 5 days and boy oh boy I didn’t know how effective it was until now. The pokes were easy compared to my memory of the scratch tests as a kid. One of my arms got red and swollen quickly. (Thanks, Cat, who is now 15 and will probably live to 25 just to spite me.) But as soon as that was over I swallowed my antihistamine and rubbed some anti-itch cream on my arm and felt better in a half hour. I sure feel lucky.

I then headed over to the kitchen I rent at the McMinnville Cooperative Ministries. We had the first of two tests as  part of a special project for Can-Do Real Food. One of our farm partners, Keeler Estate Vineyards, has some wine that is not permitted to be sold because of some form that was not filed years ago. So, we offered to see if we could turn it into wine jelly. They gave us bottles of Pinot Noir (a red) and Pinot Gris (a white) and that jelly tasted awesome. We cookeda little more of each down and mixed with sea salt to make a culinary salt as well. I get to play with yummy food. Boy oh boy, I feel really lucky.pinot noir and pinot gris april 4

This weekend I am hosting a handcrafted artisan fair inside a pavilion at the local county fairgrounds here in town. The story of how this all got started points more to my Pollyanna attitude than my realistic view of life, but it is coming together despite a couple of setbacks. Good thing, since it is only 4 days away. We have an awesome and eclectic group of talented craftspeople.  I am going to have a great weekend spending it with artists who show their love with their abilities.  I am so darn lucky.Crafts Fair poster WEB

I got 27 emails from candidates today, most, of course, begging for money. You know, this political hoohah can be very annoying. But you know what else?  We have a system that permits us to be involved. Especially if we don’t like it.  I met a candidate a couple of years ago and after talking with him decided I would help a bit. He’s campaigning again and there I am. It is rewarding and comforting to see an honest person who is very much interested in the issues of the people in this area try to make a difference.  I feel lucky to know how to get involved and help try to make this government work for the people.

My husband Graham probably did not fully know what he was getting when he asked me to marry him. We just celebrated our ninth anniversary and were able to take a few days away “at the coast” (Oregon speak for “down the shore” which is New Jersey speak for “go to the beach” everywhere else). So despite his cold we enjoyed the beautiful sunny blue skies and warm days. He humored me to head to a good viewpoint for a sunset photo too and we headed to Tillamook cheese factory on the way home so we could get some cheese and, of course, ice cream. I know I am lucky.IMG_0679

So this evening we ran a quick errand to Lowe’s to pick up something we needed for a wood craft Graham is making for this weekend. Afterwards we stopped and he put up two signs about the artisan fair. I was off the road with the flashers on and when Graham came back to the car I planned on pulling a u-turn to head home. But there was a car, and then another and then another….three police cars, so no u-ey. I drove a tiny bit and pulled into the grange parking lot to turn around. One of the police cars also pulled in…and turned his lights on. You can imagine the expletive deleted that I was thinking. I figured we might get a ticket for putting the signs up. Nope, he wanted to check we were okay and did we know we had a taillight out? We denied it and promised to get it replaced and headed home. Oh yeah. I feel lucky.

In reviewing my day I realized I left off the very best part. I heard from each of my three kids today. I feel very very very lucky indeed.

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Local Food

animal veg mirableWaking up to eating local food as much as possible happened when I read Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. She tells the story of a year in her family’s life when they moved from Arizona to a family farm that had long been abandoned in southern Appalachia.   The family decided they would eat only what they raised or what could be traded with another local farmer, with the exception of only a few things, coffee and French wine among them.

This got me thinking and I asked Graham to read the book also. The idea of eating locally, in season, was a brand new concept compared to the way we grew up with supermarkets stocking all kinds of foods all the year. Yes, we could buy strawberries in time for my sister’s January birthday cake. Yes, we could get a can of pumpkin to make a pie in the summer.  But might they be more appreciated when they came into season right near where we lived?

This book and then continued reading and discussing with others made us realize how our eating habits were adding to increased use of fuel for transporting food from the southern hemisphere to us, and more important, we realized we really had never thought about who was raising the food we were relying on for nutrition.

fried fishFor the same reason we didn’t particularly eat seafood when living in landlocked West Virginia.  We very much enjoyed eating our fill of fresh fish and seafood when we traveled to either coast.  Some food just tastes so much better when it is fresh.  If you think about it, except for freshly caught trout and fresh water fish, almost all seafood served in the center of the country is fried, the better to mask a bit of age.  In fact, most people will swear they prefer fried fish, and again, that is because most of the ocean fish served in the landlocked states is NOT particularly fresh.Albacore_Tuna

So, speaking of loving fresh fish, when we moved here the first thing I learned to can with a pressure canner was tuna and it is that time of year again! My sister lives on the coast and has a friend whose husband fishes for tuna and she was able to get them at a really good price. 2014-08-17 08.37.19Today Graham started early, trimming 40 pounds of tuna.  After sterilizing all the jars we cut the tuna into chunks, packed the half pints2014-08-17 11.13.09 and then topped them off with a bit of salt, a spoon of lemon juice and some olive oil.

We put my sister friend Linda to work too!

We put my sister friend Linda to work too!

100 minutes later at 10 pounds of pressure we had our first 48 jars, and a second round brought us up to 99.  Canned outside thanks to my friend Jana who loaned us her propane stove and her much better pressure canner.2014-08-17 11.46.27My sister and one of her friends each took a quarter, with Graham and I keeping the rest.  We finished about six hours after we had started, but again, we had to process two batches, each taking 100 minutes. It was a full day and one we will enjoy all year long, when we savor our canned tuna.2014-08-17 14.30.18

So, you say, you can buy tuna fish. And so, back at you, I tell you that you would never eat your favorite, Bumble Bee or Chicken of the Sea ever again….not after you taste what fresh tuna canned at home tastes like!

Eat local is AMAZING!!!2014-08-17 11.13.35

 


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A Good Kind of Tired

Just home from helping at the McMinnville Cooperative Ministries Saturday morning breakfast where we served about 300 people this morning. It feels good to sit down but this is a good kind of tired.2014-07-19 08.59.15

The hungry are are our neighbors, as I wrote yesterday for Yamhill Valley Grown after visiting Heart 2 Heart Farms where farmer Tyler Boggs distributes free produce to anyone who wants it.  Some of the produce is a bit tired and best fed to his animals, but Tyler realized much of the food was in great condition and several hundred people show up each Friday to gather what they want.

I went yesterday to see the activity and took advantage of the offering to bring 4 huge totes of fruit to the church. At 7:00am my first duty, assigned by this week’s head chef and pastor Mark Pederson, was to prepare a fruit salad.  IMG_3401

About 8 volunteers arrived at 7 to help with the prep. They chopped potatoes and onions, broke and beat the eggs, shredded the cheese, prepared the pancake mix, formed sausage patties and all the things that needed to be prepped for the meal.  IMG_3403

Others arrived around 7:30 to prepare the dining room and for some quick training to newbie volunteers.  Then it was 8:00a.m. and the doors were open and I joined the serving line.  Other volunteers arrived to help with the dish washing and others would arrive later to help with the overall cleanup.2014-07-26 08.26.42

At the Coop the people come in and sit at tables covered with cloth and chose their breakfast from the menu. The servers then bring the orders up to the window where several of us load the plates or take-out boxes.  As we dished up the plates the servers would bring them to the appropriate person for their eating pleasure.

The people who come to eat are treated with respect, no questions asked, no prayer service requirement.  Take-out boxes are offered for those at home who could not make it in for the meal.

bath towel storageToday we had a big bang for a start. It seemed, when I looked out at 8:00 that all the seats at all the tables were full, and sure enough the orders came in fast and furious and we soon fell behind. Dishing as quickly as we could, the last of those 8:00 a.m. eaters finally got their plates around 8:20. And the orders kept coming in pretty steadily but at a more manageable pace.2014-07-26 08.25.25

Things slowed down about 9:30, a half hour before the official end of serving at 10. By then the fruit salad was gone, the hash browns were all eaten, but there were plenty of scrambled eggs, sausages, pancakes and a delicious peach and blueberry cobbler Mark had prepared.2014-07-19 08.59.21

I know I enjoyed my breakfast very much!

Helping at the Coop or another soup kitchen is a way to return appreciation to the community. People who enjoy meals can also volunteer, as can people who are not even members of the church.  We get volunteers during the school year from Linfield College but during the vacation breaks everyone who shows up has to work a bit harder because we don’t have enough hands.  If you can help, you are very welcome to join in. Contact Lauri Muller at compassionfund@gmail.com or call 435-890-4214.


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Berryland

We’re renting our house in McMinnville and lucked into a backyard full of food. There’s an herbal garden that got Graham excited from day one, a rhubarb plant that had my name on it, two blueberry bushes that are full full full right now of green berries and I have been warned about the birds, two apples trees, and a eight foot long bunch of raspberry canes.2014-06-22 12.35.47

Those canes have been producing a ton of raspberries and the unripe ones show we still have weeks ahead of us, so I knew I had to develop some canning skills.2014-06-22 14.17.08

My past attempts of making jam has been mixed. I have made my share of rubber cement and I have made a couple of edible jars. My first attempt making raspberry jam a week ago ended up producing terrific syrup.

I have now switched recipes (Back to the Ball pamphlet) and yesterday managed to make several jars for enjoyable edible consumption.  Also tried to dry some (so-so results) and made some leather (that was better).2014-06-22 18.45.32

I’m learning!


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Using ALL the Carrot

My daughter Lisa came to visit for a bit and brought her juicer with her. While I had read about the nutritional value of juicing, my personal experience included only a few weeks of carrot juice back in the 1970s and occasionally enjoying the juice produced by Charleston’s Mission Savvy and sold by The Wild Ramp Market in Huntington.Mission Savvy juices

Lisa quickly started keeping our produce drawer in the refrigerator well stocked, and then well used. Graham is our main cook in the family and he was told not to put the trimmings from veggies into the compost but into another container for juicing.

We have had interesting concoctions. For example, as happy as I was when I purchased brussels sprouts on their stalk, after using the whole stalk in one juice we learned it produces discomfort in the tummy caused by gas. Not to be repeated in that quantity.

Brussels sprouts

Brussels sprouts

We like adding beets not only for sweetness but they color the juice a pretty purple. And carrots also add sweetness. Lisa uses the whole carrot, including the greens.

One morning we looked at the pile of pulp taken from the juicer and put into the compost and I started to wonder if there was any other possible use. I quickly found a recipe for carrot pulp-orange marmalade. As it needed 3 cups of carrot pulp, it took a few days to collect that and finally, with all the hoopla of the Thanksgiving weekend slowing down, I was able to process the batch.

I found an easy recipe on Mother Earth News from 1977 by Peter Ditzel. I needed to add a bit more water but I did not need to add any pectin.  I was disappointed it didn’t turn out as bright orange as the photo on the Mother Earth News recipe, but it sure is yummy. This recipe yielded 6 pints of marmalade.

Carrot Pulp Marmalade Recipe

3 oranges
4 cups of water
3 cups of carrot pulp (only carrots, no greens)
4 tablespoons of lemon juice
3 cups of honey
1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger
1 package of store-bought dried pectin

Peel all three oranges and cut the rinds into very narrow slices. Cook the slices in four cups of water until they’re tender . . . then let ’em sit at least seven hours (or overnight).

Once the peelings have had a chance to stand for seven (or more) hours, add the carrot pulp to them and boil for 10 minutes. Next, chop the oranges into a bowl and remove all seeds. Then introduce the oranges, lemon juice, honey, and ginger to the pulp/peelings mixture and boil for 20 minutes more.

If — after 20 minutes — the marmalade has begun to jell on its own . . . terrific! Pour the mixture into hot, sterile canning jars and seal. Otherwise — if the jam hasn’t thickened-you should stir in the dried pectin at this point. (I don’t know why, but sometimes you’ll need the pectin and sometimes you won’t. All I can say is, when in doubt . . . use the pectin.) Boil the pectin-enriched marmalade for another 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, but continue to stir for an additional seven minutes. Finally, pour the marmalade into hot, sterile canning jars and seal.carrot marmalade


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Apples Apples Everywhere!

So, a few days ago I noticed this on my Facebook feed from Jana, one of my new Oregon friends:   October 23 So apparently 10 gallons of apples make 8 quarts of applesauce and 15 pints. Now to do another branch – no kidding I seem to have that many apples on the trees.

I immediately responded that I would be glad to come over and pick some apples and would make her 3-4 pies as a trade. She responded with a very hearty positive response and so Lisa and I went over on the 28th and picked and picked and picked. She told us to clean the trees…asked us if we needed a ladder…..and sweetened the pot by letting us also glean the tomatoes left on the ground when they removed the plants.  We did a pretty good job on her trees, but did leave some behind as we had filled 8 bags and had no more room in the car!!!!

aToday, Lisa and I got to work. First, Lisa sorted through all the apples to separate ones with some bruises for first use. The others can store nicely in the unheated storage room in the garage.ba

Apples to be used were put in for a wash in the sink. You can see that these are organic apples and although there were some skin blemishes, we had only about 4 gallons of compostible waste when it was done, including cores.cA

Then, I used the apple corer I found when I unpacked all our kitchen odds and ends when we arrived here in Oregon (something that Graham had acquired long before me and must have been in a place I never noticed when we lived in West Virginia).  I can’t say I ZIPPED through the task but it sure was a lot faster than coring and paring slices from each apples. e

I mixed up the spices with the apples.fa

My mom taught me how to make a great no-fail pie crust (recipe included in Taming the Wild Ramp: Reachable Recipes for Real Food, available for sale at The Wild Ramp Market in Huntington, West Virginia. If you live in Oregon, holler.  I have a few copies with me.)H

The pies turned out great.J

I bagged them with instructions for baking and they are now in the freezer, waiting for Jana and her family to join us at our table for dinner on Sunday evening.  The pies will be enjoyed!K

And I still have about 5 bushel of apples to process! Thank Jana!!!!